Have you explored the datasets at USAFacts.org yet?

Looking for datasets? You might like exploring USAFacts.org, the philanthropical project from former Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer.

From The New York Times:

He sought to “figure out what the government really does with the money,” Mr. Ballmer said. “What really happens?”

In late April. he launched a public database developed with economists, professors, and others.

The database (USAFacts) is perhaps the first nonpartisan effort to create a fully integrated look at revenue and spending across federal, state and local governments.

Want to know how many police officers are employed in various parts of the country and compare that against crime rates? Want to know how much revenue is brought in from parking tickets and the cost to collect? Want to know what percentage of Americans suffer from diagnosed depression and how much the government spends on it? That’s in there. You can slice the numbers in all sorts of ways …

In an age of fake news and questions about how politicians and others manipulate data to fit their biases, Mr. Ballmer’s project may serve as a powerful antidote. Using his website, USAFacts.org, a person could look up just about anything … At the very least, it could settle a lot of bets made during public policy debates at the dinner table.

“I would like citizens to be able to use this to form intelligent opinions,” Mr. Ballmer said. “People can disagree about what to do — I’m not going to tell people what to do.” But, he said, people ought to base their opinions “on common data sets that are believable” …

“You’ve got to look at federal, state and local together,” Mr. Ballmer said …

With an unlimited budget, he went about hiring a team of researchers in Seattle and made a grant to the University of Pennsylvania to help his staff put the information together. Altogether, he has spent more than $10 million between direct funding and grants …

For Mr. Ballmer, the experience has been worth every cent simply for the surprises that he has discovered …

“How many people work for government in the United States?” he asked … “Almost 24 million. Would you have guessed that?”

“Then people say, ‘Those damn bureaucrats!’” Mr. Ballmer exclaimed …“Well, let’s look at that. People who work in schools, higher ed, public institutions of education — they are government employees.” And they represent almost half of the 24 million, his data shows.

(As a statistical benchmark, the entire U.S. population, including retirees, children and teens, and the unemployed, totals 325,000,000 … so 24 million is, even as a ballpark figure, around 10% of the total U.S. population.)

“And you say, O.K., what are the other big blocks?” Mr. Ballmer continued. “Well, active-duty military, war fighters. Government hospitals. Really? I didn’t know that.”

Suddenly, he explained, the faceless bureaucrats who are often pilloried as symbols of government waste start to look like the people in our neighborhood whom we’re very glad to have.

“Now people might not think they’re government employees, but your tax dollars are helping somehow to pay 24 million people — and most of these people you like,” Mr. Ballmer said …

Mr. Ballmer said he wanted the project to be completely apolitical. He has given money to candidates on both sides of the aisle …

One rule Mr. Ballmer said his team made early on was to use only government data — no outside providers — to avoid accusations of bias. But this created its own challenges.

For example, Mr. Ballmer, said: “You know it’s not legal to know how many firearms that are in this country? The government is not allowed to collect the number.”

There is data for the number of firearms manufactured, licenses, inspections, “along with other data, but not a total,” he said. “I can’t show it! I’m shocked! But the N.R.A. apparently has lobbied in such a way government can’t report the data.”

Take it for a spin at https://www.usafacts.org .